A lot has been said about Jordan Henderson in recent weeks, and deservedly so. He’s been playing in a semi-new position for most of the start of the campaign and is taking to it rather well, not to mention hopefully adding the missing goals to his toolbox as well after scoring that stunner against Chelsea last week. The captain has a lot to be happy about these days, and lots to talk about. So it was nice to see him take the chance in his column in this week’s match day program to talk about other players (way to stay humble, skipper).
Hendo spent most of his column singing the praises of two players that were sorely missed during last season’s campaign through injury - Danny Ings and Joe Gomez. Both players were injured within the same week with ACL injuries last October shortly after Jürgen Klopp took control of the team. While Danny Ings returned ahead of schedule to feature in the last match of the 2015-16 season, Joe Gomez has yet to return, having his own setbacks keep him from full fitness.
“Two of the lads who stand out at this moment, for all the right reasons, are Danny Ings and Joe Gomez. It was almost 12 months ago that these two top players suffered the worst sort of luck. Take Ingsy first: a year ago he was flying, terrorizing Premier League defenses, scoring vital goals and getting picked for his country. Joe, likewise: proving himself in the Premier League with big performances and playing for the England U21s,” The captain wrote after praising his starting teammates.
“Both were new signings in a new environment and I can tell you from experience, coming to Liverpool as a young(ish) player is a daunting thing. But both were already proving to be top-drawer players and making a positive impact. Away from my own injury issues last season, one of the lowest points was hearing that Danny and Joe had suffered ACLs within 48 hours of each other. As a teammate and their friend, I remember feeling gutted because of how well they’d started their career at Liverpool. I was gutted for them but also for the team, because I knew what a loss they’d be.
“The biggest positive to come from their setbacks is that their reputations with their teammates could not be any higher than they are now, because of the way they approached their rehab and the attitude they continue to show during this period. The word ‘inspiration’ is probably thrown around too easily but when it comes to these two, it actually doesn’t say nearly enough. As their teammates, we see everything they’ve done and we have nothing but respect and admiration for their professionalism, dedication and commitment.
“The work these lads have done doesn’t get the same exposure compared to the players who are starting games at the moment, but it doesn’t mean their contribution is any less. In the case of Danny, Joe and other lads who’ve had injuries, they are just as important as anyone to what we’re hoping to achieve.”
Both Ings and Gomez have consistently come up in the conversation regarding missed players, and little else is more encouraging than to see such ebullient praise from their captain. It’s often easy to forget that as fans we’re not actually there, not seeing their day to day actions and what each player contributes to the machine that can be a football club, so to hear that their contributions don’t go unnoticed is a welcome window into that factory. Especially at a time when certain other players are stirring the pot for unfortunately less than positive reason, taking this at face value for what it is - a captain’s praise for the professionalism of younger players. After all, Hendo is now a senior player in the squad and taking his leadership role seriously. That means backing up the players that might need it - and it’s comforting, encouraging. Heart warming. Proving himself every bit the captain that he is, and standing behind his team. Here’s to a comfortable recovery, Ingsy and Joe. We’ll be waiting for you both.